The path of Abu Tabela: a timeless and magnificent view

Named after General Abu Tabela, the path winds through vineyards and a rocky landscape from Furore to San Lazzaro.

October 30th, 2020.By Saveria Fiore

The Abu Tabela path surrounds a little area called Pino, right above the Church of Saint Michael in Furore, the well-known “painted town” of the Amalfi Coast. Its unique name holds stories of war, recklessness, and conquest that all lead back to Paolo Avitabile, a mourned man from the municipality of Agerola who became known as Abu Tabela, thanks to his illustrious career in the army. 

He fought alongside Joachim- Napoleon Murat. Then he moved East, where he ruled ruthlessly; during his stay in Peshawar, people started calling him Abu Tabela and invoked his name to scare unruly children.

Nel Sentiero Abu Tabela in Costa d'Amalfi, la raccolta dell’uva
The grape harvesting on Abu Tabela trail

Winemaking tradition

The trail starts above the Church of Saint Michael, known to locals as “Sant’Agnelo,” and goes through several vineyards on the cliffs. One cannot look at the vineyards without considering Furore, the wine town, and the acclaimed Marisa Cuomo’s wine cellar. 

The landscape includes the so-called “stink tree” or “tree of heaven,” the Ailanthus, famous for its strong and, at times, unpleasant smell. Historically, locals used it as a blowpipe by hollowing out the branch’s delicate interior and using it as a weapon.

Orrido di Pino’s Cliff and the Myth of Sant’Agnelo

You will find common hazels, sweet chestnuts, and various trees along this pathway, and you will also hear crows with their instantly recognizable commentary. On the border with Agerola, a river ford, Schiato creates a little oasis. Here the river gorge overlooks the coast, arousing almost an unpleasant feeling of horror (Orrido di Pino is named after this feeling, where Orrido is the Italian for horrid). 

Many used to call it la vottara from the Italian verb vottare,  which means to ‘throw and knockdown’ in the area’s dialect. This name is linked to a local myth about how Saint Agnelo was thrown down this cliff. Orrido di Pino overlooks the whole valley. After a while, the pathway flanked by the cliff gives space to the paved road to the little town square of Saint Lazarus, a hamlet of Agerola.

A view of Abu Tabela trail 

History in the making

Paolo Avitabile’s story may seem like it has nothing new to offer than others in the area, but it has been a vital force in its evolution. In the past, Agerola was part of Salerno’s province (at that time known as Citra principality). When Abu Tabela returned home in 1844, he decided to annex the town to the area surrounding Naples. With this move, Agerola became a mountain village autonomous from the territory of Amalfi. Thanks to Abu Tabela, we can savor one of the tastiest mozzarella in the region. 

Abu Tabela made his fortune thanks to the Bank of England. The British appreciated him so much that they gifted him a Jersey cow before they were lawfully available for export. Avitabile brought the animal home and had her mate with an Alpine Brown who began the Agerolese breed. 

And while this species doesn’t produce a large quantity of milk, the milk it does produce has higher fat content, which is the key to superb dairy products. In the silence, Pino, every corner along the path, seems to tell a story, and the life story of Abu Tabela is a powerful one: a tale of war, tradition, and dreams that came true.

(Translation by Michela Pandolfi)